Sports Out West

Kendall Marshall continues to make most of his opportunity

Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers

Since signing with the Los Angeles Lakers last month, point guard Kendall Marshall has been making the most of his opportunity with the team.

The 22-year-old was acquired by Los Angeles shortly after the team was informed that Kobe Bryant would be out an extended period of time with a fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. At the time, the Lakers were also dealing with point guard health issues with Jordan Farmar, Steve Nash, and Steve Blake all out with injuries.

Initially, Marshall received very little playing time in his first five games after he was signed as he played in only two games for a combined 10 minutes scoring just three points with one rebound, and four turnovers. His playing time increased drastically when he was thrusted into the role of the starting point guard after Xavier Henry suffered a bone bruise in his right knee that has forced him to miss the last month.

In that time Marshall has taken advantage of his chance to prove that he can be a starting point guard in the NBA as he is averaging 10.4 points and 9.6 assists in 32.5 minutes per game. In his 12 starts since Henry’s injury, he has notched double digits assists in nine games that includes a string of five straight doubles and a career-high 17 assists in the Lakers’ 135-114 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

The second-year guard has been a underrated addition by Los Angeles as he has provided stability at point guard as he is the team’s only current healthy player at the position. He has not only been solid performer on the court, but Marshall also has a team-first mentality that has been a major plus for him as a player.

After the Lakers’ loss to the Nuggets, where he set his career high in assists, Marshall was not excited about his performance, but rather angry and disappointed with the fact that his team did not get a win.

“When you lose by 25 points, it really doesn’t matter to be honest with you,” Marshall said, whose 32 assists in his first two starts as a Laker are the most by any player in franchise history. “But that’s my strength that’s what I try to do, to get guys involved every night.”

Marshall appears to be a no-nonsense type of player whose mindset on the court is helping his team win, and putting his personal achievements with aside if the Lakers does not get a victory. But when Los Angeles does win a game, he credits his teammates for working to get open and states that the win was a team effort.

His outlook on the game since entering the league in 2012 could be credited to the fact that he did not receive a true chance to prove himself to be worthy of major minutes or as a capable starting point guard until he signed with the Lakers.

As a member of the Phoenix Suns last season, he played in 48 games receiving three starts as he averaged 3.0 points and 3.0 assists in 14.2 minutes per game. In his three starts, Marshall displayed his potential as he had his first career double-double to go along with recording a total of 37 assists in his all his starts combined.

After last season, he was traded by the Suns to the Washington Wizards in October and was waived by his new team. Shortly after, Marshall was  picked up by the Delaware 87ers of the NBA D-League, where in seven games played with the team before signing with the lakers he averaged 19.7 points and 9.6 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per contest.

So with that said, his journey thus far in the NBA has made him a hungry player with a chip on his shoulder to prove that he can play in the league and be a starting point guard.

Via The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn:

“I feel a lot of people do go through [what I have] in their career, just not as early as I have,” Marshall said. “Most guys, the first team you were drafted by, you are usually with them two to three years. I know guys do go through it but usually not when you’re a rookie, 21 years old.

“As a competitor, you keep a checklist of things in your head. All the people that doubted you or cut you or waived you. You want to go out there every day and not just prove to them or prove to yourself, but prove to the league that they made a mistake.”

So moving forward into this season, Marshall has thus far made a strong case that he not only can be a starting point guard for a handful of teams in the league but also that he belongs. As he continues to rack the double digit assists games, his performance on the court speaks for itself as he is continuing to show that could he possibly be the point guard of the future for the Lakers.

Here is video of Marshall’s career-high 17 assists game against the Nuggets:

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.

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